Accurate quantification of flight speeds is a prerequisite to accurately predict the numbers of collision victims of proposed wind farms using collision rate models that are a vital part of Environmental Impact Assessments. We used GPS-loggers on Sandwich Terns to collect novel data on instantaneous flight speeds during foraging trips, separated for different behavioural stages, and applied these estimates in a widely used collision rate model. Average flight speed during a foraging trip corrected for individual variation and flight type was 36.9 ± 12.3 SD km h−1 and flight speed was highest during inbound commuting (44.4 ± 12.0 km h−1) and lowest during foraging (29.9 ± 10.7 km h−1). Our results show significant differences in flight speeds of Sandwich Terns between behaviour stages during foraging trips, which resulted in divergent estimates of collision victims due to wind turbines depending on the function of the area in which wind farms are proposed. Since these conclusions are likely to hold for many other bird species, we conclude that behaviour of birds in a proposed wind farm is a factor to take into account when modelling collision rates as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment.